Leadership and Training Team
Our Highly skilled leadership team and trainers have all come from roles in the community sector where there roles are diverse and required a vast amount of skills and knowledge. We are proud to have a great team of passionate individuals who know exactly what it’s like to work in the sector and how to best deliver the training to ensure our students succeed in their chosen career.
Meet the team:
Julie Fletcher - Director
I started Essential Skills Training & Recruitment in 2010 passionate about providing the best quality training that we could offer students and employers. Being a Registered Nurse with experience in both acute settings and residential care, mainly in education and management roles. I worked in group homes for clients with mental illness and went on to be the CEO of the Hunter Women’s Centre, where I learnt so much about the diverse community services sector. I know the importance of having staff with quality skills and experiences.
What inspires me is the knowledge that what we do supports people in multiple ways, we change lives for the better. An individual finding a career or a career pathway and helping employers to meet their needs is a major highlight of what we do, but most of all, I believe we affect thousands of people's lives for the better, due to the services they receive from our prior students.
Leisa Harrison - CEO
I have been working in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Industry for the past 10 years. My background is in Compliance and I have various management and Vocational Education and Training qualifications. I am a busy mum of 3 beautiful girls and I thoroughly enjoy my job and the team of wonderfully talented people I work with. I am inspired by the passionate and selfless people making a difference in the world today.
What inspires You? …..The most rewarding part of our business is assisting people to realise their potential and gain employment in the community services industry. I believe that if you do well by others and help them succeed in life positive things will be drawn to you naturally.
Dee Cooke - Senior Manager
Over the years I have had the fortunate ability to have a diverse career where I have been able to progress and advance in many roles starting in hospitality to managing a Hotel/Resort to a Regional liaison Manager for Employment Plus to being a manager for a large 142 Bed aged care facility to a Senior manager here at Essential Skills.
What inspires you? being someone that loves to learn working at Essential Skills Training and Recruitment gives me that opportunity not only to support individuals to reach their goals but also to be surrounded by passionate like minded people that also have the same goals and inspirations
If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….. helping someone somewhere! In what capacity I’m not sure but I do know that I love seeing people succeed and reach their goals!
Kirsty Allan - Training Manager
As a qualified Registered Nurse I have worked in clinical positions, clinical education, Community care Coordinator, community dementia nurse & ACAT assessor as well as training for the past 10 years.
What inspires you? .....Enabling people to achieve something they thought they couldn’t do. It makes you feel great that you have made a difference in someone’s life. To see people grow within themselves is pretty inspiring.
If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….. I would definitely be working in the community ensuring people’s needs were met and could stay at home as long as possible. Though… I do like the idea of being a flamenco dancer.
Rebecca Webber - Trainer and Assessor
After completing an Applied Science degree in Leisure and Health I have predominantly worked in the disability services field in a broad range of areas such as general and employment support work, then Service Management (both of a large service and shared living group homes) , Person Centred Planning and Program Design and Quality Monitoring. My key interests in the field are augmentative and alternative communication and the impact technology and social media can have on the lives of people with a disability.
Apart from disability I also have experience in designing leisure programs for people with acquired brain injury, in palliative care and for those recovering from stroke.
What inspires me: It may seem a little unusual but I’m inspired by words and stories. I have always had a fascination with words and how they can evoke emotion, whether written in a story or a poem, sung in a song or used to motivate in powerful speeches.
If I wasn’t a trainer I would be..... If I wasn’t a trainer I would be: Oh so many choices! Ultimately I would love to be a book editor, specialising in crime novels. They are my favourite genre to read and would love to find more that I can’t solve before halfway through the book! I’d love to be paid to read.
Nicole Dawson - Trainer and Assessor
An experienced Registered Nurse with almost 30 years in the industry. My career includes working in and managing aged care facilities, wound consultancy and emergency nursing. I have worked as part of the Aged Services Emergency Team in Maitland Hospital. Currently, I'm working as a clinical educator and trainer and assessor in the VET sector.
What inspires me: I am inspired by people who live their lives with purpose and without judgement of others.
If I wasn’t a trainer I would be..... a novelist!
Helen Barnett - Trainer and Assessor
As an experienced Registered Nurse and trainer and assessor I have worked in a number of areas throughout the community sector providing well being and support to those in need. I enjoy all aspects of my nursing and training career and love my daily interactions with both client and student.
If I wasn’t a trainer I would be..... doing my other love in life and that is nursing.
Janelle Shields - Trainer and Assessor
I have worked as a Physiotherapist for over 20 years' now and hold a Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy). I have worked in many arenas, including Private and Public Hospitals. I have had my own practice and am currently working in a local practice that specialise in Hydrotherapy for Disability clients.
Training has always been part of my professional identity, be it with University Physiotherapy students or new graduate colleagues, Cert IV Allied Health Assistant and Cert III Individual Support students. I just love it!! Being challenged to always extend and impart my knowledge is what it is all about.
What inspires you? Students who come from all walks of life and put themselves out there to try something different. They embrace the change and reap the rewards
If I wasn’t a trainer I would be..... a belly dancing travel blogger.
Sara Leslie - Trainer and Assessor
Sara has worked as a trainer & Assessor for 9 years and was formerly the Director of Leading Support Solutions in Brisbane.
What inspires you..... Being able to make real changes in the care sector and being able help improve people's choice through education.
If I wasn’t a trainer I would be..... writing a book.
Sonia Sims - Trainer and Assessor
I have worked in the aged care industry for approximately 10 years.
I had a terminally ill mother and wanted to be well prepared for when it was time to care for her so I went and studied Certificate III in Aged Care & Home and Community Care.
I have a vast amount of experience in residential facilities and home and community care working as a team leader & physio aide. I also have experience in kitchen, laundry and cleaning operations.
What inspires you? .....Helping and supporting people to achieve their goals.
If I wasn’t a trainer I would be..... Working in an aged care facility.
Jo Hawkins - Trainer and Assessor
My passion and chosen area of work is supporting people with disability and I have extensive experience in this field, working in large residential, community group homes, on a behaviour support team and various roles in management.
I am very grateful to work with the many talented people at Essential Skills and to continue to provide training that meets the needs of the modern workforce.
What inspires you? .....Supporting and empowering people to grow and achieve their goals.
If I wasn’t a trainer I would be..... a multi-millionaire and invest in houses (do them up and sell them).
Tania Hardy - Trainer and Assessor
I have worked as an AIN for over 10 years specialising in dementia care and palliative care. I feel I've made a geat contribution to community as an AIN and I'm thrilled to be able to that to a new level by helping train the next generation of aged care and disability care workers.
What inspires you? Being able to make a positive impact on another person's life; whether it be through quality care or education.
If I wasn’t a trainer I would... a belly dancer.
Michelle Worth - Trainer and Assessor
Before starting at Essential Skills I was a disability care worker specialising in complex care. Within that time I was appointed head trainer a ran internal professional development programs to ensure staff were up to speed on the latest regulations and procedures.
What inspires you? My students inspire me, and the amazing people I work with.
If I wasn’t a trainer I would... running a beachfront bar in some remote paradise.
Judy Gray - Trainer and Assessor
Judy is a Leadership and Management trainer and assessor at Essential Skills Training and Recruitment. Judy teaches the skills needed to advance your career through a management focus, and to contribute to your work and the community through increasing your leadership skills. Judy has worked in Australia and abroad in a number of management positions both in health care and multinational corporations. She has been responsible for building a multi-million dollar business and assisting her team members to develop their individual career paths.
Judy holds a Master of Management degree from Macquarie Graduate School of Management and a Master of Nursing: Women’s Health from the University of New England.
What inspires you? I am passionate about social justice and have served on the boards of not-for-profit organisations in the Newcastle area.
If I wasn’t a trainer I would... be a travel blogger or painter.
Peter Robson - Customer Relations Officer
I have been working in the Vocational Education sector for over 15 years now in various roles including sales, marketing, customer service and educational resource development. Here at Essential Skills I am responsible for course enquiries, student recruitment, sales and marketing and B2B liaison.
We couldn't do without our wonderful administrative team. Our administration staff all have a great passion for providing quality customer service. They are always welcoming to anyone who walks through the door or calls the office, and will go above and beyond to help our students and employers. Our roles are varied, and include providing information on courses, assisting students to find the right qualification and enrol, supporting them throughout their training and ensuring they are issued with their certificate quickly after completion. We also provide support to employers by providing them with regular updates on their staff members’ progress throughout training. We pride ourselves on our product knowledge, knowing that we can give people all the information they need to make decisions about their career paths.
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